Sunday, August 29, 2021

In My Footsteps: My Biggest Butterfly Effect Moment


    It’s amazing how much the journey of life is a game of inches or seconds. I am getting close to wrapping up my 43rd year on this earth and have been looking back and marveling at how many forks in the road there have been. It’s like a butterfly effect where if something had changed ever so slightly my life would look nothing like it does today.

    We all have those ‘what-if’ moments. Life is not a Choose Your Own Adventure book though, so we can’t safely look forward and see what might be. You do or do not. Typically these what-if’s come down to relationships or employment. I’ve had so many with both. I moved to Las Vegas and moved to Ft. Lauderdale at different times and wonder what if I had stayed at either place. I’ve had relationships end, or potential relationships never happen and wonder about all of them.

    However there is one what-if that I felt compelled to discuss as it coincides with a sad anniversary. As of writing this it is the 16th anniversary to the day of Hurricane Katrina devastating New Orleans, Louisiana. As a brief overview, Katrina was a monstrous Category 5 hurricane which struck the United States with sustained winds topping out at 175mph. It caused $125 billion in damages and led to 1,836 deaths. New Orleans in particular was the epicenter for the destruction. Sadly also as I write this Hurricane Ida is traveling nearly the same path into the city.

    Flashback to June 2005. There was a relationship I was in that had become long-distance. She lived with her family in a suburb just outside of New Orleans. I was crazy about her. My plan was to move down to the area and begin a life and see how things progressed with her. I had visited in February and felt out how I might do moving there.  In June I had begun setting up viewings of apartments and sent out feelers for job interviews including one particular one at an art gallery.

Laketown Park in Kenner, a suburb of New Orleans during my February 2005 visit.

    The plan for me was to move down to the New Orleans area in early July and go from there. Then things changed. Our relationship ended. She got cold feet and thought things were progressing too fast. Looking back she was absolutely right, I was so smitten by this girl and just wanted to skip the chase and get to the finish line. I was very confident in what our future could be, but sometimes that stuff doesn’t matter. At the time I was 27 and she was 22 so I can see that she felt she was too young for such a serious step I was planning.

    That being said, about 2 months after my New Orleans plans dissolved Hurricane Katrina hit. My first thoughts were concern for her and her family. I reached out to her after not speaking for a few months. They all had to relocate to Houston, Texas but were safe. We would remain in touch casually for several more months. Once she told me that she was seeing someone else I excused myself from her life as I didn’t think it was good for either of us to be in each other’s lives at that point.

Some of the horrific damage from Katrina in New Orleans.(cgcolman/Pixabay)

    However after I got over the initial shock of the storm and found out that she and her family were alright I went down the what-if road. If things had gone the way that I had hoped it was my intention to be down in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina. What would have happened then? Would I have stayed in New Orleans after the storm? Would I have tried to move to Houston too? What if my relationship had gone up in flames shortly after I got down there? Above all of those possible scenarios I came back to all of those poor people who lost their lives during the storm. Could I have ended up as one of them? It’s both chilling and humbling.

    As much as I wanted my relationship at the time to work and to be a grand new chapter of life I can only look back and be grateful that it didn’t. All of my writing that I have done, up to and including this blog here, might not have happened. My sadness at the ending of that relationship spurred on a lot of my initial writing. Maybe I would have still done some writing, but the travel writing which led to currently 6 books and a 7th on the way, likely would never have happened.


    Who knows, maybe I get lucky and find success working in an art gallery in New Orleans? Maybe I’m lucky and spared by the hurricane? Maybe my relationship works out and the big risk pays off? Or maybe it all goes the other way.  If I could go back and change how things went down, I likely would keep it the same.  It ends up literally being the choice between love and career.

    That’s one of my big what-if, butterfly effect moments of my life. There are other ones but this one always sticks out in my mind as the biggest, or at least riskiest as far as my actual life and future goes. It’s just amazing how so much of life is just a matter of inches, or a matter of seconds one way or another.


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